Fitness Shortcuts For Busy Parents: How To Get Back Your Fab Bod
People talk about life after 30 like it’s some kind of beauty quicksand, as they have to face the inevitability of physical decline. Nose wrinkling images of love handles, back fats and Dad bods would surely come to mind.
But the point these people are missing is that age isn’t as scary as another major life event: when kids happen. Think about it, really; as if the soul wrenching slush pile at the office isn’t enough to take one down, working parents have to muster whatever energy they have left to deal with crappy (literally) diaper situations, 3AM wails and mind boggling math homework. Is there ever enough time to get back to the gym and restore all the shapely glory of yesterday?
On the bright side, modern day parents have great fitness role models to look up to. The women have former First Lady Michelle Obama, and the men have wrestler-turned-Hollywood superstar Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. If they are able to flaunt such impressive figures despite their jam packed public and private lives, then surely you can also make the best of what you have going on to get a little closer to your #fitspo heroes and heroines.
You might already be one of those cool Mums or Dads, but how about looking the part? These simple, fuss-free hacks could very well unlock a fabulous, new you.
Cultivate The Habit of Working Out
Many fitness enthusiasts like to word drop ‘Discipline’ as the secret sauce. But to effectively look as fit as you really are, a select group of fitness warriors we spoke to dug deeper and agreed that carving out a habit could be more important than discipline. Imagine how you would instinctively reach for a cup of coffee after waking up. Yes, that’s it. Once a habit is ingrained and automated, your targets would be more attainable because you no longer think about it, you just do it.
Pro tip: If you are particularly unmotivated, play around with something as simple as a 10-minute circuit after jumping out of bed. You don’t even have to invest in extra equipment. Body weight exercises, such as push-ups, burpees, mountain climbers and jump squats, work wonders for starters. You could also make use of your bed to do box jumps if you’re resourceful.
Don’t Skip Breakfast (even if you have no time)
It is no secret that dieting pulls a lot of weight (ha, ha) in maintaining a killer figure, but it does not mean drastic reduction in food intake as much as it does eating strategically. As a time-starved professional who also has to rush the kids to school, you could always make the switch to quick breakfast ideas, so you don’t miss the most important meal of the day. They include: fruits, oatmeal, protein-shakes, toasts and eggs.
For those who enjoy a heartier breakfast but are concerned about putting on weight, try incorporating Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) powder or oil into your food. MCT is a unique form of dietary fat that does not store surpluses in the body or clog up arteries like typical fats, and they metabolize rapidly to produce immediate bursts of energy. It is best consumed in the morning so you get that extra edge to squash your AM workout.
The field of dietary supplements is a mind boggling maze. You are surely familiar with the usual suspects, like whey protein and vitamin pills. But check in to a pharmacy or online store and you will be bombarded with so many more, which is risky because you wouldn’t want to suffer the side effects of an uninformed supplement cocktail.
If you had to pick just one, give MCT a shot. It is safe, certified and free of preservatives. Proverbially, it could be just what the doctor ordered, assuming you experience constant fatigue and sluggishness from work and parental duties.
Why is that? Earlier, we mentioned that MCTs come in either flavourless oils or powder that can be mixed into your favourite dishes or beverages, thus giving your energy levels a leg up. But MCT can also boost mental clarity for sharper performance in the office; studies have proven that by having ketones as an alternative fuel to the brain, it improves memory and cognitive abilities, and even helps combat the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Think about it: if your sharpened mental prowess could translate into higher productivity, which translates into an earlier knock-off time, you would finally get that much needed window to hit the treadmill, wouldn’t you?
Those slender, well-toned fitness enthusiasts among us are savvy to a T. They understand that working out shrewdly instead of blindly can have their bodies to produce optimum results in lesser time.
What do we mean by ‘blindly’? A fitness enthusiast we spoke to mentioned she used to squeeze in as much as she could during a long 2-hour gym session on the weekend, to make up for the lack of time on weekdays. She lost the drive after not seeing the results she wanted. Things slowly picked up again, only after learning about high intensity interval training (HIIT) which she did 3 to 4 times a week. She gave an interesting analogy: You don’t eat a full barrel of rice today and survive the rest of the year without food.
On the contrary, a mere 15-minutes is just as effective, assuming you’re fully invested in short, intense bursts with little rest in between. In this case, MCTs make the perfect fitness perk-me-ups for busy parents; after being converted into ketones in the body, it allows for greater endurance and faster post-workout recovery. In other words, that qualifies for an even smarter workout.
Keep Your Muscles Guessing
Did you know that your muscles remember your workout routine and can plateau in their performance overtime? This is why the successfully savvy fitness bunch routinely engage in a variety of workouts to keep their muscles engaged.
Complementing your usual drills with different exercise genres can help enhance flexibility, core strength and cardio capacity. But sometimes, going into unchartered territory can be daunting. This is the part where you may take your phone out, because you’re going to call up your partner (or a pal) and sign up for those Crossfit, kickboxing, aerial yoga or even KPop dance classes together. With a plus one by your side and money put down, you’d want to make trainings worth your while.
Optimum Rest For Your Body
Oh, don’t we all know about the powers of beauty sleep. But how many parents can afford the luxury of seven or eight solid hours of shuteye when life pulls them in different directions? Whatever rest you are forced to make do with, make sure they are quality ones; avoid intense exercise too close to bedtime, and reach for a novel instead of electronic gadgets.
Ideally, lights off should also be kept to around the same time each night. Yes, that applies to weekends too. This ensures you segue smoothly into deep REM sleep, the focal point for your body to relax, recharge and regenerate for 100% physical, mental and cognitive sharpness the next day –physiological peaks that MCTs can help amplify.
Lest you forget, insufficient sleep is one slippery slope to love handles, back fats and Dad bods.
* First published on Alvinology.